The Steelers benched Week 1 left tackle Mike Adams in favor of Kelvin Beachum (who would have been replaced by Levi Brown, if not for his season-ending injury). But just due to the team's own history, as well as the potential Adams carries, it seemed like only a matter of time until he would get his second chance.
He'll get that chance Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
The Steelers have been using Adams as a blocking tight end in running formations, perhaps as a way to maximize their bulk in a phase of the game the Steelers have struggled with all season. The team hasn't had a 100-yard rusher since Week 10 of the 2012 season - a streak that reached 19 games after a Week 13 loss to Baltimore.
A more subtle and bigger-picture reason behind using Adams in such an unorthodox way is to keep him active and engaged, because his future is not yet set in stone.
Adams, a second-round pick in 2012, has had a rocky start to his NFL career. Outside of the whippings he took from Week 1-4 this season, he was involved in a stabbing incident this offseason, putting him out for the team's minicamp and organized team activities portion of their offseason schedule. It was time he could have used, considering he would play the 2013 season with his third offensive line coach in three years.
Whatever work he did with Jack Bicknell Jr. early in the 2013 season didn't appear to help him. While the Steelers switched Marcus Gilbert with Mike Adams before the team played the Washington Redskins in their second preseason game, Adams started cold and never came close to warming up.
Most notably, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen put a beating on Adams that won't be soon forgotten. While he certainly took his physical lumps, the losses he took to Allen were chock-full of the mental variety as well. Adams looked confused, lost, far from the athletically gifted player he is.
We noted at the time of his demotion he'll get another chance. He just needed time and work.
If he's had enough time and work, or not enough of either, we'll see it early against Miami. Boasting one of the game's better pass rushing arsenals, the Dolphins will no doubt plan to confuse Adams every chance they get. Both teams are alive for a playoff berth in the AFC, and the Steelers are down to the felt in terms of offensive line depth.
If ever there was a time for a Steelers back-up to step in and perform heroically, this is it.
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